In the texts I have studied, space tends to be a more dominant feature than sound due to the emphasis of setting. Interiority and exteriority are common tools used to express setting and characters within a scene; generally, negativity develops when a manmade quality is present.
In ‘Hey Nostradamus’, when Cheryl and Jason fly to Las Vegas to get married, there is an innocent quality to Cheryl when ‘our outfits must have made us look all of fifteen’. This suggests that Cheryl was of too young an age to get married, which is reinforced by their ‘fake ID’, and conveys a manmade quality to their relationship; as Jason states ‘I was seventeen and starved for sex’. Coupland portrays Cheryl’s sense of innocence further with her ‘first experience to genuine heat’ and how ‘my lungs had never felt so pure’, as she is a virgin at this point and the sibilance conveys a sensual quality. The saint-like motif here is ironic because no sooner has she married Jason, she falls pregnant; this, again, induces a manmade quality to their relationship and a negative slant on Cheryl, which could foreshadow Cheryl’s death in the eyes of God, in terms of religion. Coupland questions the setting of the Bible through Cheryl’s innocence, whereby she ‘wondered how the Bible ever managed to happen. They must have had different weather back then’. The natural and manmade are contrasted here, with the weather and Bible, and there is a sense that Cheryl is justifying religion, as Coupland expresses his greatest fear of ‘God being real and not caring much for humans’. Sound can reinforce this idea, however, in ‘good Lord, the desert is harsh’, as the sibilance here creates a negative use of exterior setting, despite being a natural element; this could reinforce the idea that Cheryl has not experienced life and so even the natural elements are turning against her.
In Eliot’s ‘The Hollow Men’, the manmade quality of war is negatively portrayed through the motif of a scarecrow, and can be applied to World War One and modern warfare. The idea that ‘we are the hollow men/ We are the stuffed men’ suggests an industrial or mechanical process in which something is filled manually; the imagery here has negative connotations as they have ‘shape without form, shade without colour, paralysed force, gesture without motion’ which conveys a lack of self-worth and sense of innocence. We feel pathos for the character as the oxymoron suggests that the ‘men’ are not sure of who they are and we feel a sense of loss of identity. Nature is personified when ‘the wind’s singing’, perhaps, as the government as the ‘men’ are ‘behaving as the wind behaves’ as if they are being given orders; this mechanical and manmade process is communicated by a ‘headpiece filled with straw’ which conveys a lack of sound and emphasis on the space and setting, despite the sibilance that enhances the negativity. Additionally, Eliot substitutes the traditional mulberry bush and England for a ‘prickly pear’ in ‘cactus land’; the imagery conveys a hot, dry climate and is suggestive of a damaged generation with the use of a nursery rhyme and reverting back to childhood induces an innocent quality. Furthermore, the fact that ‘the eyes are not here’ conveys a lack of emotion and creates the image of ‘the hollow men’, perhaps suggesting that even though the government are not present, they still cannot talk about the going’s on with their unnatural, metaphorical ‘broken jaw’, prohibiting sound.
In Harris’ ‘Enigma’, sound and space are used to communicate the living conditions of most…